Playing chess against a computer is supposed to be Mr. Spock's territory, but there's nothing stopping you from pitting your skills against a cybernetic opponent, thanks to Yea Chess by Drazen Beljan. It's a free chess-playing program that uses artificial intelligence and your computer's processing power to test your chess-playing ability at various skill levels.
Yea Chess is portable freeware that requires no installation; you can copy it to a USB stick or other portable device and always have access to your saved games. The program's interface is a chessboard with Game, Option, and Homepage file menus and control arrows for initiating moves along the bottom and numbers and letters along either axis. When you hover the cursor over your pieces, it takes the form of a pointing finger that lets you make quick and easy moves by clicking a piece and then clicking the square you want to move it to. You can zoom the rather compact view up to 250 percent on the Options menu, which also accesses the computer strength level settings; we used the rather low default setting, level 8 of 10. We clicked Game and selected New Game as Black, which shifted the black pieces from the top of the board to the bottom. The computer initiated play by advancing the White Queen's pawn, a classic opening move. We responded, and the computer instantaneously responded with a countermove. Yea Chess won't let you make wrong moves, but it'll sure let you make bad ones! Although we deliberately played an abbreviated game to test the program's moves, we expected to lose; Yea Chess achieved checkmate in eight moves. Clicking Save Game at current position saved the game in the program's folder, a nice touch that keeps things together in one location.
We're definitely living in the future when something from "Star Trek" becomes reality. Yea Chess not only gives you a challenging match but also helps you refine your game. It's easy to use and fun, too, if you don't mind losing a lot!
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From Drazen Beljan:
Yea Chess is a chess versus computer. It has a simple interface and powerful and quick artificial intelligence. You can adjust the skill of the computer and save games.
What's new in this version:
Version 4.87 fixes bugs and introduces a new option.
Strong play. Very small executable compared to other chess programs. Pleasant and zoomable 2-D graphics. 10 play levels. Load/save options. Free. The author (Drazen) apparently writes free game programs as a hobby. Amazing.
I could not find anything wrong with this program.
Simple, clean and very powerful. Very small footprint on the drive - 80KB
Not so easy for a beginner.
If you know how to play chess and have moved past the initial learning stage, this program will challenge you for a long time to come.
There are no bells and whistles just straight forward analytical move sequences. I have played chess for almost 30 years and have 'Chessmaster' 10th edition on my computer. When I came across 'Yea Chess' on CNET, I downloaded it out of curiosity. Naturally, I played it on level 10 (top level) against the top Chessmaster level over a 20 minute timed game. To my absolute surprise, Yea Chess won! I've done this 9 times so far and Yea Chess has won 6 times and drawn once.
To put simply, all computer chess games play with pure mathematical logic based on combinations and permutations. Consequently, most computer chess games become predictable after awhile. But analyzing the moves after a Yea Chess game, you could be forgiven for thinking this game plays with human strategy. It will open 90% of the time with the Dunst opening (N-C3) and continues with a combination of attacking and defensive play through out.
If you're a novice or a club champion chess player, give it a go. It wont disappoint.